Disproving 10 Hospice Myths

disproving 10 hospice myths

Clients and families entrusted hospice with their care know that the services were invaluable. From the relief of having 100% of your care and equipment brought into the home to the comprehensive support services (grief support, volunteers, spiritual guidance/reassurance, etc.), we are here to improve the quality of life for clients.

Don’t Let These 10 Hospice Myths Block The Care You Deserve

However, these 10 hospice myths often block people’s willingness to contact hospice in time to provide the incredible support we’re capable of when we have more time to spend with clients and families.

Hospice means you’re giving up

We have great respect for the medical and healthcare industries. However, physicians, surgeons, and specialists are trained to fix things and are less trained or prepared to support patients when things can no longer be fixed. This means hospice is often viewed as “giving up,” and families don’t have the opportunity to talk about hospice until death is on the immediate horizon.  As a result, patients wind up participating or desperately clinging to treatments that won’t work or that diminish their quality of life for the time they have left. Hospice does not mean you are giving up; it means you want to optimize the quality of life for yourself and family members as you create end-of-life plans that honor your values and wishes.

It’s only for people on Medicare OR hospice is expensive

Anyone who qualifies for hospice automatically allows for Medicare’s hospice coverage – meaning hospice is free for all. It is one of the greatest and most sacred examples of equality in our healthcare system.  Hospice is a fully funded Medicare/Medicaid benefit, unlimited in length (hospice qualifications are six months in duration and our physicians can renew them over and over again as needed). Most private insurance companies also cover hospice. Medications, equipment related to the hospice diagnoses, home visits from physicians, nurses, and aides, and all of our other services are available with zero out-of-pocket expense to the patient. 

Hospice means you’re going to die

Guess what? Studies show that life expectancies actually extend for hospice clients who enlist services earlier rather than later. For example, statistics show, “For certain well-defined terminally ill populations, patients who choose hospice care live an average of 29 days longer than similar patients who do not choose hospice…” As we stated in Number 1, the idea that hospice means you’re going to die is one of the most prohibitive myths. Hospice means you have a diagnosis or prognosis that could mean a life expectancy of six months or less. However, as mentioned above, many of our patients live far longer than six months because the quality of care they receive in hospice improves their quality of life. Without the stress, worry, and physical/mental effects of intense treatments, hospice patients typically gain a leash on life. 

Hospice means there’s no going back

Not true. Hospice means you’ve ceased participating in curative treatments (although current medications and medications to facilitate comfort care or to treat symptoms are included in hospice). If you change your mind or something comes up requiring a “curative treatment,” you can go off hospice to get the care you want and then return to our service anytime. For example, we have a client with ALS whose hand seized up and caused great pain. She went off our service for surgery to treat her hand and then went back on our service as soon as she was home. 

Hospice and palliative care are the same thing

They are actually different. You can read Palliative Care and Hospice Care…, to learn more about the specifics. However, palliative care is often the first step for many clients. This includes comfort care and support while you continue pursuing medical treatment. If treatments become debilitating or no longer facilitate quality of life, you can transfer back to hospice service. 

You only get hospice when you have days or weeks to life

Unfortunately, most clients and families resist calling us until their families have days or weeks to live, which diminishes our ability to provide the support they deserve. In reality, you can receive hospice whenever you have a terminal prognosis/diagnosis, and you’ve decided to stop curative treatments that are taking away from the quality of your life. This means some clients are in hospice for months while others can live for a year or more on our service. We prefer patients contact us at the first signs they may need hospice so we can bring in support and heart-centered care as soon as possible.

Choosing comfort care means giving up control

Patients and their families always call the shots with hospice. In fact, one of the best things about hospice is that we are here to provide support for the client and their families. That support means families have the clear, anxiety-free space to make sound decisions – with a team of professionals providing all the information, education, and emotional support they need.

One of the most common hospice myths is that hospice is a place or a facility

While some hospice agencies do have a dedicated Hospice House, hospice provides care wherever the patient considers home or in the most comfortable place of their choosing. For some, this means receiving hospice care in a hospital or nursing home. The large majority of our clients choose to receive hospice at home, where they are surrounded by the people and things they love. In this case, everything they need is brought right to their door.

Hospice providers are all the same

This is decidedly untrue. Each agency has its own personality, culture, and “flavor,” so to speak. As mentioned in  #7, you completely control your healthcare and end-of-life choices. We recommend interviewing at least three different local hospice care agencies before selecting the one that feels best to you. Visit our post, Tips for Choosing a Hospice Provider, to learn more about the questions to ask and things you should look for in your hospice care team.

You have to sign a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) to be in hospice

We return to the mantra, “you are in control of your hospice care and end-of-life plans.” Most of our clients indeed prefer to have a DNR because they don’t want to return to a hospital and are choosing to die at home. However, others want to be resuscitated, and that is fine.  When you start your hospice service, we’ll speak to you about your end-of-life plans, including medical directives, to ensure your wishes are respected. 

We Answer Questions About Hospice And Common Myths

Have questions or a fear/anxiety around hospice you would like to clarify? Contact Hospice of the Golden Isles, at 912-265-4735 to learn more about our services. 
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Hospice of the Golden Isles.
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912.265.4735 | toll-free at 866.275.6801
1692 Glynco Parkway | Brunswick, GA 31525
501(c)(3) non-profit organization | License #GA063007H
Privacy Policy 
Copyright ©2020 Hospice of the Golden Isles.
All rights reserved.

Members United Way of Coastal Georgia
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National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Member